This past weekend, I purchased an iPad. Apple sold 300,000 of these tablet devices on the first day so I wasn’t alone. And by the way, in the usual iPad conceit of many bloggers, I am writing this post on my iPad as another demonstration of its functionality.
Since this device was released on the weekend, it made it easy to understand the iPad as the consumer device that it is. It is a great personal entertainment device to consume music, videos and photos, whether you stream content over wifi, sync existing media through iTunes or buy it directly from the iTunes store. I would assume that this was part of Apple’s release plan.
While understanding that this is not a laptop or business device, I wanted to use my iPad exclusively in place of my laptop for a full day of work. Here’s what I learned:
I spend a good part of my day going to meetings and I usually take my laptop. On this day I only took my iPad. Granted it is just walking down the hall, but it is easier carrying the smaller and lighter iPad. This let me keep up with email and Twitter during the meeting. Since there are no background services, I did not get any on screen notifications of mentions or any of my search terms. This makes Twitter less real time, unless you keep checking the stream.
I started the day without any specific apps to handle note taking. I didn’t think I would use the notes app, which is the same app as on the iPhone and very limited. I thought I could use Google docs, would avoid any syncing, duplication and version issues. I very quickly found that Google recognizes the iPad as a mobile device and serves up the mobile versions of its apps. That means that docs is a read only program on the web. You can view all the existing docs you want, but you can’t edit any of them. You also can’t create new docs. By the end of the day I had downloaded the Pages app ($9.99) for note taking. One word of advice about the iPad user interface. Many applications have different functionality in landscape mode (horizontal) and portrait mode (vertical). For example, the only way to get from an open document in Pages to your list of documents is to turn your iPad vertically which brings up a My Documents button in the upper left.
One the things that appealed to me about the iPad was the opportunity to use it for presentations. If I need to take a quick trip somewhere just to give a presentation, can I really travel without my laptop. I started to answer that question by downloading Keynote ($9.99), which is Apple’s equivalent to Powerpoint. It is easy to copy existing presentations to the iPad using the file sharing function in iTunes. You find it under the apps tab when looking at your iPad in iTunes. Scroll all the down or you will miss it. You can import Keynote or Powerpoint files for display on your iPad.
If you will be presenting on a large monitor or projector, you will need the VGA out connector. The thing that is different about this output is that it does not mirror your display from the iPad. It just displays native iPad content like Keynote, YouTube videos and photos. So when you are connecting to the projector, make sure you open Keynote so you can make sure the connection works. The presentation shows on screen and the iPad shows that it is in video out mode with forward and back arrows. It does not display speaker notes.
And finally, Keynote on the iPad only exports as Keynote or PDF, so if you make any changes on the iPad, you will need Keynote on a Mac to get the presentation back to Powerpoint.
The last thing I learned in my first business day with the iPad was how to use PDF. By default, the iPad uses the quick viewer to view PDFs that you receive in email or find on the web. This means you can see these documents, but that’s about it. By downloading the Good Reader app ($0.99), you get more functionality. This app uses the file transfer function associated with iTunes, so you can add PDFs directly to you iPad for later viewing, or sales presentations. You can also download PDFs from the web. These files are only viewable through this app, as there is no way to see what files are on the iPad.
Another way to use PDFs is to convert them to the ePub format and view them with the ipad’s book reader, but that conversion seems unnecessary if you use the Good Reader program.
That’s what I learned in my first day of business use with my iPad. One final note about the keyboard. My typing has already improved, and I’m sure it will continue as as I type more.
Did you get an iPad, or are you thinking about it, and what are your thoughts about its uses for business?